Five Kenyans held by So­mali pi­rates, says UN chief

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics -

So­mali pi­rates are hold­ing at least five Kenyans for ran­som, United Na­tions sec­re­tary gen­eral Ban Ki-moon (pic­tured) has said. In a 28-page brief pre­sented to the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, he did not, how­ever, give the names of the hostages. Ban did not ex­plain the cir­cum­stances un­der which they were ab­ducted. He said only one Kenyan, James Kuria, was re­leased by the pi­rates in 2016. Kuria was in cap­tiv­ity with Lois Weru, who is still in the hands of the In­dian Ocean pi­rates. He was de­liv­er­ing medicine in So­ma­lia. Ban said Kuria was freed after So­mali se­cu­rity forces raided a vil­lage where the two Kenyans were be­ing held in Fe­bru­ary. “The Kenyan woman is still be­ing held. Dhows and for­eign fish­ing ves­sels have be­come the main tar­gets of So­mali pi­rates in the past year,” Ban said. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, pi­rates are hold­ing 39 sea­far­ers from for­eign-reg­is­tered ves­sels as cap­tives. They in­clude 26 from an Omani ship, 10 from an Ira­nian ship and three from a Ye­meni ves­sel. No sea­far­ers from large com­mer­cial ships are cur­rently be­ing held by So­mali pi­rates, the out­go­ing UN leader said. The re­port cov­ers the pe­riod end­ing Septem­ber 30. “More than three years have passed since So­mali pi­rates suc­cess­fully hi­jacked and held a large com­mer­cial ves­sel for ran­som,” Ban told the prin­ci­pal or­gan of the United Na­tions. Strong in­ter­na­tional armed pa­trols and anti-piracy poli­cies from the re­gional states, such as Punt­land, have helped re­duce large-scale piracy, the re­port said. It said the threat of at­tacks on ships in waters off So­ma­lia re­mains sub­stan­tial. In May, the In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Bureau warned for­eign ships sail­ing near So­ma­lia’s coast to re­main vig­i­lant, de­spite a drop in piracy at­tacks in the Horn of Africa.

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